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Gwen, bait cars and some celebrity connections

The dog days of summer are upon us. School's already begun for many area students. And it's time to clean out the warm-weather coffers before September brings in autumn's bounty.

In other words, it's time for a big update column. Consider the whole thing an "Elsewhere around the Scene." And consider my reporter's notebook finally unburdened. Well, at least until fall comes.

First, a taste of next season's cool offerings. Pop superstar Gwen Stefani will bring her Sweet Escape Tour to the Stockton Arena on Nov. 1.

Stefani, who also is the lead singer of No Doubt, has toured the world as a solo success behind her albums "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" and "The Sweet Escape."

Tickets are $37.50-$67.50 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through the arena box office and stocktontickets.com. Call 373-1700. ...

The new Court TV reality show "Bait Car" will feature scenes shot in Modesto.

The series, which debuted Aug. 6, focuses on the California Highway Patrol and its efforts to curb vehicle theft in the state.

The first eight episodes were filmed in Oakland, Modesto, Stockton and Riverside/San Bernardino. The cities were chosen because they have some of the highest vehicle theft rates in the United States.

In the series, CHP officers plant "bait cars," unmarked vehicles left in high theft areas, while hidden cameras record what happens. Officers watch as thieves enter and steal the vehicles. They then stop and arrest the suspects.

"We are very proud of our bait-car program as one of the tools we use to combat car thieves," CHP Commissioner Mike Brown said in an official press release for the show. "The bait cars are proven to have an impact on curtailing vehicle theft."

Brown said vehicle theft fell 40.6 percent in Stanislaus County following deployment of bait cars and other anti-auto-theft programs. Last year, the CHP made 357 arrests from bait-car deployments.

Catch "Bait Car" at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Mondays on Court TV. For more, visit www.courttv.com. ...

In other reality-show news, Modestan Lauren Pettit has gotten some behind-the-scenes and on-screen credit on the new VH1 celebreality series "The Rock Life."

Pettit, a Central Catholic High School graduate, is the road manager for the Los Angeles rock group Whitestarr. The band, featuring paparazzi and Internet celebrity Cisco Adler, had been opening for ZZ Top this summer. The series premièred this month and follows the group as it tries to make a name for itself on the music scene.

Pettit moved to Los Angeles after high school and is a student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She interned with Whitestarr and then was offered a job as lead singer Adler's personal assistant. Adler, the son of L.A. music mogul Lou Adler, became a tabloid target while he was dating his former girlfriend, "The O.C." actress Mischa Barton.

Pettit has been on the road with Whitestarr as tour manager since July and is listed in the show's credits as "Assistant to Whitestarr." The band now is on tour with Alice Cooper.

"The Rock Life" airs at 10:30 p.m. Mondays. For more, visit www.vh1.com/shows. ...

Modesto rock group Anthem is working a little celebrity mojo of its own.

The group is working with Michael Klooster, keyboardist for the pop-rock hitmakers Smash Mouth. Klooster, a Stockton native who also plays in the local band The Mundaze, will produce and engineer Anthem's next CD.

Catch Anthem live at at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Spiritz Bar and Grill, 4905 N. Golden State Blvd., Turlock. Cover is $5. Go to www.myspace.com/ anthem or www.anthemcentral.com. ...

Documentary film fans might want to check out the upcoming documentary film class at Modesto Junior College.

Created by MJC Professor Paul Schreivogel last spring, the class this semester will be lead by MJC Professor Laura Paull. The three-unit class runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays in Art Building Room 204 on the MJC East Campus and is open to the general public. The series starts Monday and runs through Dec. 15. Enroll in advance or at the first class.

Paull said she will screen 15 films that will trace the origins of the documentary film through the United States, France and Russia, including everything from the serious to the humorous to the beautiful.

To enroll or learn more, visit www.gomjc.org. ...

And, finally, brains, brains!

The sixth annual ShockerFest International Film Festival will kick off with a boo with ZombieFest on Oct. 5.

Zombie-centric night will kick off at 9 p.m. at Riverbank's Galaxy 12 Theatre and include zombie films and shorts, as well as a costume party with prizes. Celebrity appearances include Carel Struycken (Lurch from the "Addams Family" films) and Scott L. Schwartz (who had small parts on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel" and "Star Trek: Enterprise").

Tickets are $5. For more visit www.shockerfest.com.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284. Read her blog SceneIt at thehive.modbee.com/sceneit.

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